ENZEE for Net Zero!

Seldom does a concept come along that is both intuitively digestible and scientifically accurate — achieving net zero is how we stop climate change.

ENZEE for Net Zero!

net zero

What is Net Zero?

We’ve all heard the term net zero, but what exactly does it mean? Put simply, net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. Think of it like a set of scales: producing greenhouse gas emissions tips the scales, and we want to get those scales back into balance, which means no more greenhouse gas can be added to the atmosphere in any given year than is taken out.

To meet the 1.5°C global warming target in the Paris Agreement, global greenhouse gases should reach net zero around mid-century, and preferably earlier.

Why Net Zero matters!

Net zero is important as it’s the best way we can tackle climate change by reducing global warming. What we do in the next decade to limit emissions will be critical to the future, which is why every country, sector, industry, company, and each one of us must work together to find ways to cut the greenhouse gases we produce. This means first and foremost to rapidly phase out fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas – and transition to renewable energy.

Solenergi ved solceller

Increasing Negative GHG Emissions

Increasing negative emissions is the other side of the Net Zero equation. The only greenhouse gas that can easily be absorbed from the atmosphere is carbon dioxide. To stabilize global warming at any level, emissions of carbon dioxide (CO₂), the main greenhouse gas, need to be eliminated; reducing them is not enough.

There is an ongoing debate on the best method to achieve carbon-dioxide removals. They can be divided in two big groups: technological solutions and “nature-based” solutions.

Technological solutions rely on the assumption that future technologies will be able to remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than future economies will emit. Examples of technological solutions are:

  • Removing CO₂ directly from the exhaust gases of industrial processes and storing it elsewhere, e.g., underground
  • Bioenergy utilization in combination with carbon capture and storage, meaning burning biomass in power plants and immediately capturing the CO₂ underground

Nature-based solutions, on the other hand, are efforts to use forests, lands, and oceans, to absorb carbon dioxide. Examples of nature-based solutions are:

  • Afforestation, i.e., large-scale planting of trees, and sustainable forest management which store carbon in soil and biomass.
  • Restoration of reefs and seagrass in shallow ocean areas to efficiently store carbon dioxide.
Green trees in forest
Wind turbine park

Why Net Zero and not Zero?

In many sectors of the economy, there are technologies that can bring emissions to zero. In electricity, it can be done using renewables. A transport system that runs on electricity or hydrogen, well-insulated homes, and industrial processes based on electricity rather than gas can all help bring sectoral emissions to absolute zero.

However, in industries such as aviation, the technological options are limited; in agriculture too, it is highly unlikely that emissions will be brought to zero. Therefore, some emissions from these sectors will likely remain; and to offset these, an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases will need to be taken out of the atmosphere – negative emissions. Thus, the target becomes ‘net zero’ as a whole.

However, to avoid a climate catastrophe, new emissions of greenhouse gas must be as low as possible. In other words, we need to get as close as possible to a real zero and only rely on offsetting when it is necessary.